Monday’s Special Committee: the deep-bore tunnel project

Home » Monday’s Special Committee: the deep-bore tunnel project

At 9:30am on Monday, at a special full council meeting of the Seattle City Council will be voting on whether to overturn the Mayor’s veto on C.B. 117101, which would authorize the City to execute the agreements with the Washington State Department of Transportation, allowing them to proceed with the deep-bore tunnel project.

I believe that there is too much risk in this project and at a time when we are cutting funding to education, transit, and human services, we need to also be thinking about less expensive and less risky alternatives to replacing the viaduct.  I will be voting no, but the veto override will almost certainly occur 8-1.

Once passed, the city council has another option – we could refer the agreement to the citizens to approve.  I am attempting to introduce a resolution on Monday that would do just that.  If this project has cost overruns, the people of Seattle will be paying those cost overruns one way or another.  We owe it to our city to give the people a say – are they willing to bear this risk or not?

The last time the public voted was in the beginning of 2007 and 69.65% said they did not want a risky tunnel at that point.  This is a new tunnel, but the risks are even greater, and the impacts outlined in the supplemental draft environmental impact statement are significant.  You deserve to have a chance for your voices to be heard.

Below is a draft of the Resolution I will be trying to introduce at the Special Committee:

RESOLUTION _________________

A RESOLUTION submitting a referendum regarding City of Seattle Ordinance 117101 to the qualified electors of the City, at an election to be held on August 16, 2011; calling on the City Clerk to certify the proposed referendum to the  King County Director of Elections, requesting that the Director of Elections call a special election in conjunction with the August 16, 2011 primary election and submit the proposition to City voters, requesting that the City Attorney prepare a ballot title and explanatory statement, and requesting that the Director of Ethics and Elections ensure that the measure is in the voter’s pamphlet.

WHEREAS, in 2001 the Nisqually earthquake damaged the Alaskan Way Viaduct and Seawall; and

WHEREAS, in March of 2007 the voters rejected a tunnel alternative when presented this option in an advisory ballot; and

WHEREAS, the Washington State Legislature passed Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 5768 and the Governor signed the bill into law designating Bored Tunnel Program as the preferred replacement for the Alaskan Way Viaduct, but made it clear that Seattle area property owners would be responsible for any project cost overruns; and

WHEREAS, no funding source has been identified to mitigate the impact of the tens of thousands of additional vehicles that are predicted to use the City’s downtown streets after the completion of the deep-bore tunnel; and

WHEREAS, the City of Seattle is facing significant financial stress and does not have the resources to address project cost overruns or mitigation expenses; and

WHEREAS, the environmental review of the Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement’s preferred option is almost complete and we have a better understanding of the risks and impacts associated with the deep-bore tunnel than we did in 2007; and

WHEREAS, the decisions concerning replacement of the Viaduct and Seawall will affect the City for the next 100 years and will profoundly shape the region’s future transportation network; and

WHEREAS, the people of Seattle should have a direct voice in a decision of this magnitude; NOW, THEREFORE,


Section 1.  The Director of King County Elections, as ex officio supervisor of elections, is requested to call a special election to be held in conjunction with the state-wide primary election on August 16, 2011, and to submit to the qualified electors of the City the referendum measure set forth in Section 2.

Section 2.  The City Clerk is authorized and directed, not later than 84 days prior to August 16, 2011, to certify the referendum measure for the ratification or rejection of Ordinance 117101 entitled:

AN ORDINANCE relating to the State Route 99 Alaskan Way Viaduct and Seawall Replacement Program; entering into certain agreements with the State of Washington as provided in RCW 39.34.080, RCW Chapter 47.12, and other applicable law; and ratifying and confirming certain prior acts.

passed by the City Council on February 7, 2011, vetoed by the Mayor on February 17, 2011, and reconsidered and passed by the Council on February 28, 2011, as authorized by Seattle Charter Article IV, Subsections 1.H and 1.K. 

Section 3.  The Seattle City Attorney is requested to prepare a ballot title and an explanatory statement for this referendum measure.

Section 4.  The Executive Director of the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission is requested to take those actions necessary to place information concerning this referendum measure in the August 2011 voters’ pamphlet.